Lone Wolf

lone wolf front

This Lovely New Cover by Suzette Vaughn

Lone Wolf – sci-fi adventure at its best! The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? The Lone Wolf is book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes. Below is an excerpt from Lone Wolf. Wil has just arrived on the mining vessel where Matilda and Marc serve together. It’s obvious fairly early on that something isn’t right between the two men.

Marc opened the door to the docking bay. The other ship had attached and the airlock was pressurizing. As the door spiraled open, Matilda sensed a shudder pass through Marc. He raised his weapon, covering the entrance.

Slowly, with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.

He wore a black eye patch over his left eye and a scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, leaving a pale crescent in the dark. His uncovered eye glittered, black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.

Their visitor sized Matilda up with a glance, dismissing her as non-threatening. He puffed on his cheroot thoughtfully. A crooked grin cracked his face in half, the scar pulling his left lip up at an odd angle.

“Marc, it’s been a long time.” He held out his hand.

Marc remained aloof, not taking his eyes off the visitor, lowering his weapon or acknowledging the proffered hand.

“Kind of a cold reception, isn’t it?” His voice was rasping and low.

The smile was replaced by a slight frown, a hint of sadness in the obsidian eye. Then the same placid expression took its place. Nothing in Marc’s face betrayed what he was thinking or feeling.

Marc spoke calmly. “Commander Dulac, please show Colonel VanLipsig to the lounge.”

“Of course, sir.” Looking puzzled, she did as he asked, feeling his eyes on her.

Marc followed, covering the man from the rear. When they had seated themselves, Matilda ordered three cups of joe from the synthunit. Marc kept his weapon out on his knee with his hand resting upon it.

The other fellow leaned back, seemingly unconcerned and at ease. Taking a sip of the joe, he grimaced, glancing down at his cup before matching his gaze with Marc’s.

“I know we parted under difficult circumstances, but is this really necessary? I’m here to do a job, nothing more.” He carefully kept his hands in plain view, moving slowly, talking with deliberate ease.

Marc looked at him blankly. “I thought you were dead, Wil.”

VanLipsig nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “You were sure you killed me.” His voice was flat, toneless, unemotional. He shrugged casually, tilting his head to the left. “I got better.” There was a flash of a chilling smile.

“The reports….”

“The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated,” VanLipsig quipped, dark eye glittering mischievously.

Marc’s fist dented the metal table with a furious blow. “Dammit, Wil! Can’t you stay dead?”

VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high-pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”

“No.”

Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig was puzzling. They seemed to have known one another for years, obviously parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc certainly did.

“May I present myself, ma’am? I’m Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her nametag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue. He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”

Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”

Wil chuckled deep in his throat. It was a seductively menacing sound. He put his feet up on the table between them, relaxed, but all business. “So, what’s this load I’m supposed to pick up?”

Matilda glanced at Marc, his blank face betraying nothing. He gave no indication that he was going to speak, so she took over the conversation. “Trimagnite.”

VanLipsig, who was staring openly at her full breasts, raised an eyebrow. He grinned wolfishly, dragging his gaze to meet hers. “Really? Nasty stuff.” He sounded almost gleeful. “How pure?”

She met his eyes with a challenge as his smile became predatory. Her personal scanner showed him the basic specs. His brow furrowed slightly as he read, then he handed it back to her, whistling softly in surprise.

“Show me the full scan.” All joking aside, he stood expectantly.

Matilda ushered VanLipsig to a console and typed in the commands. He leaned over her right shoulder, his face mere inches from hers. His scent tantalized her. It was disconcerting, made all the more disturbing because he was dangerously handsome, well built, virile, wickedly seductive and extremely close. Forcing herself to look back at the screen, she felt his warm breath on her neck, tickling her skin in a very sensuous way.

He leaned forward, tapping the console, watching as the view and number readout changed. The very air between them was charged with energy. His shoulder brushed hers from behind, making her shiver

VanLipsig put his hand on her shoulder, brushing her neck slightly with his thumb, leaning in as if to kiss her. He checked himself abruptly, nearly brushing her ear with his lips. His breath stirred wisps of hair, tickling her neck.

“I’m sorry, Commander. Are you cold?” His raspy voice seemed loud, although he whispered.

She ducked out from under his arm, stepping aside. “No, I’m fine. Really. Thank you.”

Marc stood a few feet away, his eyes on the other man, saying nothing. The muscle in his jaw worked rapidly, bulging and relaxing as he fought for control.

Wil seemed unaware of them both as he read the screen, making mental calculations, sensuous lips moving as he spoke to himself. He nodded, clearing the screen, turning to them with a dazzling smile.

“No problem,” his smile broadened, but didn’t reach his eye. “I’ll just get my bots to work, then.”

He made for the door, but Marc stopped him with a powerful arm across his chest. Wil halted, pressing aggressively against Marc’s elbow.

“Old man, you know that’s dangerous.” Wil’s body stiffened defensively.

Marc glared at him, cold fury erupting. “By God, Wil! I killed you, you bastard!” Marc pounded the table next to him, scattering the cups of joe.

Wil didn’t even blink. “I told you, I got better.”

Marc’s huge fist shot out suddenly from shoulder height, all his weight behind it. Wil caught Marc’s fist, twisting up and away from his jaw, forcing Marc’s arm to bend back on itself, elbow by his ear.

“Don’t make me do this, Marc.”

Wil held Marc’s arm, their muscles swelling and knotting as they fought for control. Marc tried to free himself from the other man’s unyielding grasp. Suddenly changing tactics, he swung at Wil with his left hand. With an audible crack, his enormous fist connected with Wil’s face. Neither man seemed to notice.

Marc drew back, swinging again from the left. Wil dropped Marc’s right hand in order to block the blow. He grabbed Marc’s arm in an elbow lock. Using the force of the attack, he spun Marc to face him, slamming his fist into Marc’s abdomen. Instead of recoiling from the blow, Marc moved in, utilizing Wil’s momentum and his own greater weight, to put his opponent off balance. He threw Wil to the floor, hitting him with a bone grinding body slam. Wil exhaled sharply as he grappled with one hand in Marc’s hair. Wil forced Marc’s head back at an odd angle. Marc’s face grew dark red as he gasped for breath.

Matilda reacted instinctively, her weapon trained on Wil automatically. Stance defiant, her eyes glittered with dark fire.

“Let him go,” she spoke quietly, teeth clenched.

Wil held Marc’s head, but stopped twisting. “Why don’t you put the gun down, Ma’am, before you hurt yourself?”

Wil’s face registered momentary surprise when she didn’t immediately comply. Instead, her grip shifted on the weapon, her aim true, right between his eyes. The astonishment was quickly replaced by a placid expression. VanLipsig allowed himself a glance in her direction. Her face held a determination equal to his own. Slowly, he let go of Marc, who straightened up, shaking his head.

“Move away from him.”

VanLipsig stood in one fluid motion, taking two steps back. His hands were shoulder height, out from his body. He made no sudden movements, his demeanor passive.

“Now would one of you testosterone glutted males tell me what the hell is going on?” Her dark eyes flashed dangerously.

Wil smiled slightly, waving his fingers to get her attention. “May I put my hands down, Commander?”

Matilda gave a terse nod. “Where I can see them.”

Slowly, he lowered his hands, keeping them in full view. “Could you maybe?” He gestured to the point of her weapon, motioning down.

Lowering the barrel, she kept her eyes on him. “Colonel VanLipsig, I’m required to quote you Guild Regulation 516 A, which states….”

“I know what the hell it states, Commander. Let’s pretend you quoted to me about unprovoked attacks on a fellow Guild member. Only he started it and I’m not Guild. I just transport stuff.”

“Why?” She demanded.

“‘Cause I’m nice.” His tone was petulant, his stare defiant.

“And damn well paid,” Marc added, his voice harsh and raw.

“Yeah, well that….” Wil said with an offhand shrug. He moved toward Marc, intending to help him up. Matilda’s weapon followed sharply. “Geesue, what’s with you people? Has the Trimagnite already fried your brains, or do all guests get this treatment?”

“That’s what I’m waiting to hear from the two of you.”

“Ask him,” Wil replied, jabbing a finger at Marc. “He attacked me, remember?”

Matilda fixed her eyes on Marc. “Talk,” she said, pointing her weapon at him instead.

Marc stood unsteadily, moving toward her, hands spread in a pleading gesture. “Romance, baby, wait….”

“Tell me.”

She tapped Marc in the chest with her weapon, emphasizing each word. Her eyes flicked over to Wil, who hadn’t moved. An incredulous grin replaced the blank expression.

“That’s what this is about? You didn’t like me coming on to her?” Wil rolled his eye upward, laughing caustically. “Damn!”

Wil looked Matilda over like merchandise, his eyes stopping at her chest. Shaking his head, he licked his full lips. “Oh, baby, we could have had some fun.” He sighed exaggeratedly. “I’m sorry, Commander.”

Finding his act hard to swallow, she kept a wary eye on him, but brought her weapon down.

“Look, I’ve been out deep for awhile. A man gets pretty lonely out there all alone. You’re the first woman I’ve seen since I left Aolani six months ago. Damn, you’re fine! I bet you have men panting after you all the time.”

“Not really,” she lied. This was a trick to get her off guard and she knew it. “I very much doubt Captain Slatterly would react so heatedly just because you were trying to seduce me.” She flashed a cocky grin.

Wil paused, gazing at Marc appraisingly. His expression changed to a stony-edged glare. “I dunno, it was over a woman last time too, wasn’t it, Marc?”

Marc drew himself up to this full height, towering over them both. “Yeah, you killed her,” he said with quiet menace.

“She betrayed us to the enemy, Marc.”

“Only you say so.”

Wil held his hands wide from his body, taking a step toward Marc. “There was a time when my word alone would have been good enough.” He paused, gathering his thoughts. “Marc, she was with him when I found her. She betrayed us.” He spun around on his heel, head flung back.

“Geesue, Marc! It’s been almost sixty years! How long are you going to carry a grudge?”

“Another sixty if necessary.”

© Dellani Oakes

Coming Back Soon!

To Follow Lone Wolf, Shakazhan and The Maker

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